We recently joined more than 100 people in Jackson as part of Wyoming Game and Fish’s meetings to hear from the public about future grizzly bear management now that grizzly bears are off the endangered species list. These meetings have all been civil and productive, and we applaud Wyoming Game and Fish for listening.
You can bet that hunting was a hot topic, and the one that many showed up to comment on. To be clear, GYC opposes trophy hunting of grizzly bears, and we want to see – at minimum – a five-year moratorium on hunting grizzlies. Too many bears are dying right now without hunting in the mix. At last count, 51 bears have died so far this year, and previous years have seen sad record numbers of bear deaths as well.
These meetings, however, are covering more than just hunting. Discussions also included grizzly research, conflict, and education. My specific comments included:
- Better monitoring of bear and hunter interactions. Look at how many hunters are carrying bear spray right now, and encourage more hunters to carry bear spray.
- Game and Fish can test proactive tools to prevent conflict, and they can do more research on these tools when it comes to bear-cow conflicts. Game and Fish could also look for more opportunities to partner with organizations like ours.
- We will hold Wyoming accountable to the commitments the state made to the US Fish and Wildlife Service about grizzly bear hunting. Those commitments include: that bears would not be hunted in the John D. Rockefeller Memorial Parkway, that hunting would not be focused on Park boundaries, and that Game and Fish would coordinate with the Park Service every year on hunting seasons.
GYC is proud of the on the ground work we are doing to keep bears alive in the Greater Yellowstone, and will continue to work with - and hold accountable - the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to make decisions based on what is best for grizzly bears.
-- Chris Colligan, Wildlife Program Coordinator